Campbell on Artists v Journalists & Bloggers

January 31st, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

writes at Scoop on the Government’s response to the jailing of Iranian film-maker . He quotes the letter from which says:

We also raise the human rights situation in in statements at the United Nations, including cosponsoring the UNGA 3rd Committee Resolution on ’s Human Rights. We will continue to express our concern at restrictions on the right to freedom of opinion and expression in , including the imprisonment of journalists, bloggers, and filmmakers such as Mr Panahi.

Now Gordon may be quite right to criticise the Government for relying on statements at the UN to improve human rights in Iran. But here’s what Gordon says in his critique of the Govt’s response:

Finlayson apparently believes Panahi’s case is not exceptional, nor his treatment particularly egregious. In fact, we appear to have an Arts Minister unable to tell the difference between an artist of Panahi’s stature, and journalists and bloggers.

Oh goodness – what an insight into the Wellington cultural mindset. Governments shouldn’t do anything beyond the normal statements at the UN to protest against jailing of journalists and bloggers, but when the detainee is an “artist of stature”, then they must move mountains.

Is this attitude linked to the leave Roman Polanski alone movement, because he is also an “artist”.

Personally as a blogger, I’m rather glad Chris doesn’t see bloggers and journalists as less deserving of freedom from detention, than artists of stature.

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24 Responses to “Campbell on Artists v Journalists & Bloggers”

  1. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    In fact, we appear to have an Arts Minister unable to tell the difference between an artist of Panahi’s stature, and journalists and bloggers.

    It shows the arrogance of an enlightened left-wing elite. There should be no differential treatment at all: artists, bloggers, and journalists are all mammals to be treated equally.

    To suggest the contrary is elitism.

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  2. Auberon (873 comments) says:

    Tragic how the left hoist themselves by their own petards. What value life? That depends, is he an artist? Shameful.

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  3. ben (2,414 comments) says:

    Oh no. What is Gordon’s theory here?

    a) Panahi is one of us – the intelligentsia – and no mere blogger, is therefore deserving of special treatment.

    b) Bloggers (“the competition”) in fact are deserving of jail for their use of speech, as this is devastating to our century old journalist business model.

    Either way I take Gordon’s position to imply no general principles on the matter, just principles that depend on whether the art being produced is agreeable to him. Not the deepest analysis.

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  4. Psycho Milt (2,363 comments) says:

    Is this attitude linked to the leave Roman Polanski alone movement, because he is also an “artist”.

    No, it’s linked to the fact that the title “Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage” implies that the Minister will, to some extent at least, actually give a shit about art and artists, that being his fucking job that we’re paying him for, an’ all.

    [DPF: Oh he should only worry about human rights of people in his portfolio area. So does this mean the Minister of Education should only worry about teachers who get arrested in Iran?]

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  5. backster (2,118 comments) says:

    Mr Campbell should take his concerns to his old female mate and ask her to use her influence as UNbigshot to condemn Iran.

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  6. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,827 comments) says:

    You’ve all missed the point. Campbell saw the name and assumed he’s a Bro.

    Makes all the difference, see?

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  7. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    Campbell saw the name and assumed he’s a Bro.

    Is he so inclined? :D

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  8. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    You have a point, but isn’t it about a thousand times less important than the Iranian government’s attempt to muzzle Panahi?

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  9. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    …or maybe just trying to distract attention from the government’s pathetic response to human rights abuses in Iran?

    By the way, Panahi’s films are brilliant – I saw ‘Offside’ last night and found it very funny and uplifting, also saw his film ‘The Circle’ some years back, which was also very good, though in a completely different way, rather grim and traumatising.

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  10. bobux (349 comments) says:

    Pycho

    No, it’s linked to the fact that the title “Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage” implies that the Minister will, to some extent at least, actually give a shit about art and artists,.

    Maybe I missed something, but I thought we were paying him to give a shit about arts and culture in NZ?

    Following Campbell’s logic, we should also expect comment from the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Corrections, as their Iranian equivalents are clearly implicated in locking up the film-maker.

    I’m all in favour of NZ being more vocal on human rights, but this is transparently an excuse for Campbell to take a cheap shot at the government. In doing so he comes across a complete tool, unless you believe artists should enjoy a greater measure of freedom than everyone else.

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  11. RRM (9,630 comments) says:

    Oh goodness – what an insight into Gordon Campbell’s mindset.

    There DPF, fixed that for you :-)

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  12. Psycho Milt (2,363 comments) says:

    [DPF: Oh he should only worry about human rights of people in his portfolio area. So does this mean the Minister of Education should only worry about teachers who get arrested in Iran?]

    No. But it does mean the Ed Minister should be able to recognise the arrest of teachers as being obviously and specifically relevant to her in a way that arrested lawyers, shop assistants or accountants wouldn’t be. This is why they get titles like Minister of Education, Minister of Finance etc, isn’t it? Because they have particular areas of responsibility? How can it be necessary for me to explain this on a political blog?

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  13. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    “I’m all in favour of NZ being more vocal on human rights, but this is transparently an excuse for Campbell to take a cheap shot at the government. ”

    So Campbell’s been writing about the Panahi case, and organising screenings of his films, just in the hope of goading Finlayson into saying something stupid so that Campbell can have a go at him? Come off it.

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  14. Psycho Milt (2,363 comments) says:

    Maybe I missed something, but I thought we were paying him to give a shit about arts and culture in NZ?

    If you think Finlayson should have told Scoop to fuck off because he isn’t paid to take an interest in foreigners, that’s a different matter to the one DPF has raised.

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  15. niggly (812 comments) says:

    just in the hope of goading Finlayson into saying something stupid so that Campbell can have a go at him? Come off it.

    Actually if one reads Campbell’s piece, well then yes, in effect Campbell is having a go at Finlayson. Campbell has taken a position on Panahi (and as an aside, good on Campbell for supporting Pananhi by raising public awareness via the film screenings etc), but typical to form, ol’ Campbell just cannot help himself by dishing out venom at all those he considers taking an inferrior position to himself.

    In effect Campbell wrote an article highlighting his (ego, I mean) his raising of the Panahi issue and then proceeded to devote a considerable amount of his article attacking Finlayson (and by inference the National Govt).

    There’s nothing worse than a cynical, sneering critic, who gets worse as he gets older …. perhaps Gordon Campbell should start up a club for cynical old gits and sit around an moan at 99% of the population that doesn’t share his worldview. Good grief, imagine the atmosphere in there)! Remember it’s easier to be a sneering old cynic that actually get off one’s arse and doing something really positive that will make a difference …..

    As for Campbell’s attack on Finlayson, totally unwarranted, the issue is a Foreign Affairs (Murray McCully) issue and Campbell is no dumbarse, he very well knows that, so why is he undermining Finlayson’s credibility? Oh, yes, the same reason why all 5th Columnist’s think they have a mission to do so …. :-)

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  16. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    “Actually if one reads Campbell’s piece, well then yes, in effect Campbell is having a go at Finlayson. ”

    Sure, but to say “this is transparently an excuse… to take a cheap shot at the government.” is just silly. Campbell may well be taking a shot at the government (and, if they can’t take a stronger stance on human rights issues than “Oh, we raised it in statements at the UN”, they richly deserve it), but Campbell isn’t raising the Panahi issue just to have a crack at the government.

    “it’s easier to be a sneering old cynic that actually get off one’s arse and doing something really positive that will make a difference”

    Well Campbell does seem to be getting off his arse and doing something – so what’s your problem?

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  17. niggly (812 comments) says:

    Well Campbell does seem to be getting off his arse and doing something – so what’s your problem?

    I wouldn’t say Cambpell is doing anything of substance himself. Let’s compare shall we, according to Campbell himself, via Finlayson’s letter, what the Govt is doing:

    Finlayson: “Creative freedom is very important. It’s an adjunct of the right of freedom of expression. New Zealand shares concerns about the human rights situation in Iran, including restrictions on the right to freedom of opinion and expression”.

    1. “We work closely with like-minded countries, including Canada, Australia and the EU, to monitor the human rights situation in Iran”.

    2. “New Zealand’s Ambassador, Brian Sanders, has made representations to the Iranian Government on restrictions of human rights in Iran on a number of occasions”.

    3. “We also raise the human rights situation in Iran in statements at the United Nations, including cosponsoring the UNGA 3rd Committee Resolution on Iran’s Human Rights”.

    4. “We will continue to express our concern at restrictions on the right to freedom of opinion and expression in Iran, including the imprisonment of journalists, bloggers, and filmmakers such as Mr Panahi”.

    So is Campbell getting off his arse and:

    1. Writing to the Govt’s of like-minded countries to monitor the human rights situation? Answer = No.

    2. Making representations “to the Iranian Government on restrictions of human rights in Iran”? Answer = No.

    3. Making representations to the UN? Answer = No.

    4. Continuing “to express our concern at restrictions on the right to freedom of opinion and expression in Iran, including the imprisonment of journalists, bloggers, and filmmakers such as Mr Panahi””? Answer = sort of, by writing articles to Scoop which is read by NZ’ers and holding film screenings to NZ’ers. In a Chardonnay Socialist sort of way, doing fuck all real work to resolve the problem, and instead make his conscious feel better by making others (NZ’ers) feel like their consciousness stinks. Oh, and attack Finlayson in a subtle method to undermind his credibility with the Arts Scene.

    Anyway, aren’t you an anachist, and if so, how come you’re not cynical about this? Why are you running interference for Campbell of all people? :-)

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  18. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    Oh, I see – Campbell is being compared with the New Zealand government (which has slightly more resources) and you say he isn’t doing as much? Well, that’s fair.

    Not that I’m so impressed by the government making statements to the UN, and generally making carefully crafted jaw-music on the issue.

    And OK, you can belittle what Campbell is doing, so, when you demand he “gets off his arse” what exactly do you want him to be doing?

    “Anyway, aren’t you an anachist, and if so, how come you’re not cynical about this? Why are you running interference for Campbell of all people?”

    Not sure what ‘running interference’ means, but the general thrust of your comment seems to be that I’m supporting Campbell and shouldn’t be.

    So far as I know, I disagree with Campbell on a lot, but at the moment he seems to be doing more on the human rights situation in Iran than any other individual in NZ, and he has my support for that work. Maybe I’m not as ridiculously sectarian as many on the right seem to be, or expect others to be (By the way, it’s funny how much the modern right seems to be taking on the characteristics of the old left). Sorry for not being a cynical as you’d like me to be.

    I thought DPF’s comments on this were plain dumb – as I said, he had a point, but obscured the far more important one – I’d have expected DPF to back somebody campaigning for human rights in Iran, but instead he takes aim at him over a minor issue, not to mention stretching and generalising Campbell’s either clumsy or silly comment on Finlayson and then trying to link it with support for a rapist .

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  19. niggly (812 comments) says:

    Maybe if I say it a third time you might stop pretending to be ignorant.

    Getting (Campbell) off his arse means doing more than simply berating the Govt (for getting off its arse) and writing columns for the Gordon Campbell fan club to read. That could easily include writing open letters to the Iranian Govt (and publishing them on his website etc). For a journo like Campbell he could do that blindfolded with one arm tied behind his back. But no, he’d rather attack Finlayson and the Govt.

    If you bother to read Campbell you would know he has been attacking the Govt for years, and our linkages with the USA (I take it you’d be in that camp as well).

    For example Finlayson advocated overturning the ban on US Warship visits when he was a rookie MP.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10695601

    Well as you would know, Campbell hates US Foreign Policy, so to cut writing a long story short, let’s just say that Finlayson is no fool, and Campbell knows that (and knows that Finlayson’s AG portfolio offers him alot of “power” and influence etc), so why not indulge in some subtle character assasinations against Chris Finlayson.

    As well as not being a fool, Finlayson is also a liberal and Campbell wouldn’t mind tearing Finlayson down, because Finlayson is likly to be making inroads into the liberal arts and culture set, rather than live up to the sterotype that a National MP is a heartless arsehole.

    Don’t believe me? Wait until Gordon Campbell releases his take on the NZ Wikileaks (coming very soon), I’m sure you’ll see another attack on Finlayson coming.

    Not stop playing cute please by repeating yourself.

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  20. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    “Maybe if I say it a third time you might stop pretending to be ignorant… Not stop playing cute please by repeating yourself.”

    OK, that’s that discussion gone down the usual Kiwiblog road of attacking people for what you imagine they are doing, rather than what they are actually doing.

    I still reckon taking a stand against Iran’s human rights abuses is more important than playing petty politics. Sorry for repeating myself.

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  21. MT_Tinman (3,043 comments) says:

    “Personally as a blogger, I’m rather glad Chris doesn’t see bloggers and journalists as less deserving of freedom from detention, than artists of stature.”

    Well, bloggers anyway.

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  22. MT_Tinman (3,043 comments) says:

    Sam Buchanan (218) Says:
    January 31st, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Sorry for repeating myself.

    Maybe the quote should be amended to “Lies, damned lies and apologies”.

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  23. niggly (812 comments) says:

    Ok Sam, perhaps I may have misunderstood your intent and as a result, got too short so I shall apologise for that and causing offence to you.

    So let’s start afresh and let me acknowldge that you believe that Campbell is “getting off his arse” by publicising the Panahi issue and the film screening, which you attended. Incidentally I did originally acknowledge that Campbell is doing good in raising the public awareness, so let us agree then that is the case and this is good.

    Let’s agree to disagree that I think Campbell could (easily) be doing more. For I shall not repeat myself about why and you don’t wish to go there.

    Let’s agree to disagree that I think Campbell is also using this situation to diss Finlayson, the Govt (and MFAT). For some reason you can’t seem to see this. I don’t know why, maybe you’ve come away from the film screening wanting some action on the issue and human rights abuses in Iran (and good for you, I agree) and as a result don’t want to see fault in Campbell’s handling of the issue? (That is, in his article that DPF quoted etc).

    If you are interested in looking below the surface, here are some clues:

    1. First we have DPF article above, quoting Gordon’s second quote criticising Finlayson personally for being “unable to tell the difference between an artist of Panahi’s stature, and journalists and bloggers.” There, that was just a crazy thing to say, as others have pointed out, WTF?.

    2. Second. Ok, so what’s behind Campbell diss’ing Finlayson? Why is Campbell playing the man and not the ball? Why on earth attack Finlayson, the Arts and Culture Minister, over his letter when this is clearly a foreign affairs (MFAT) issue? Why didn’t Campbell ask McCully for an answer, as he was the appropriate Minister? (Or even the PM for that matter)?

    3. Third, you say that “Campbell isn’t raising the Panahi issue just to have a crack at the government”.

    4. Lets see what Campbell wrote, first, Campbell’s headline: “On the Key government’s lame response to Jafar Panahi.. Looks like an attack on the Govt …

    5. Let’s see what Campbell’s opening paragraph was: An attack on MFAT by discrediting them as being both “imbeciles and a folly” (and of course, MFAT are directed by the Govt of the day).

    6. Campbell’s second paragraph: Likens Finlayson to the “bumbling charade” that is MFAT.

    7. Campbell then writes another 3 more paragraphs criticising Finlayson and MFAT further.

    8. So do you still think Campbell’s article was a film screening review, or simply used the film screening as a pretext to attack Finlayson, MFAT and thus the Govt? Clearly both, but the emphasis of the article was to attack Finlayson. (And I’ve provided other motivations why in my previous post etc).

    9. Agree Campbell is doing something but as per above, in my opinion he falls well short because he could do better and use his writing skills and knowledge to work for positive change rather than simply fall back into automatic criticise the Govt and Western response.

    10. Clearly Campbell is not stupid, and knows that NZ does not have the diplomatic clout to get away with what the French Culture Minister could say (but also Campbell knows the French are patriotic on their Culture whereas in NZ, culture is important but NZ’ers aren’t so vocal and patriotic about their culture, depending on where one sits in the ethnic divide etc) so why the hell is he trying to suggest little ol’ NZ would have any clout with the Iranian authorities? He would rather endanger NZ’ers jobs, exports and wealth (of those industries and service industries that trade with Iran) by shouting at Iran rather than NZ quietly speak to them (quiet as in “off the record” not opposed to timid) and NZ work with other like minded nations that have more clout.

    11. Oh wait, I forgot, Campbell is one of these idealists that thinks NZ should be a true independant nation, cut all ties with its traditional friends (UK, USA, Canada, Australia), see NZ wealth and economy decline as a result. But hey, who cares if one doesn’t have a job anymore, with a bit of community spirit and number 8 wire, we can live in a clean green utopia and self educate (because Govt won’t be able to afford to maintain the health, education and social welfare support). :-)

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  24. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    If you read my comments, you’d note that I called Campbell’s comment on Finlayson “clumsy or silly” and said DPF had a point, (I say clumsy, because I thought he might have been trying to say that the Panahi case was exceptional because most repressive governments stick to jailing their explicitly political opponents – such as journalists and bloggers – and leave the more implicitly political artists alone. This is a moot point and I don’t know if it matters much) so you’re pushing it a bit to say I couldn’t see that he was attacking the government.

    But my point is that he is attacking the government for its weak stance on human rights in Iran – to try and claim he thinks “Governments shouldn’t do anything beyond the normal statements at the UN to protest against jailing of journalists and bloggers” and link his comments with support for a rapist, as DPF did, or that this is part of a campaign of “character assasination” against Finlayson to discredit him in the eyes of the arts community is just ridiculous – unless you have some evidence beyongd the speculation you’ve offered.

    Campbell could be doing more? Sure, so could all of us. Though you seem very clued up on what he isn’t doing, again with no evidence presented.

    As for the nonsense about Campbell endangering NZ jobs by calling for criticism of Iran – the government has been happy to criticise Iran over many things – and put impediments in the way of NZers doing business with the country (such as requiring registration of NZ companies trading with Iran – so why play softly softly on human rights issues? On past record, governments (of every shade) are gutless when it comes to supporting human rights, and I’m glad Campbell is taking them to task.

    Problem is, particularly reading the last para in your last comment – claiming Campbell wants to “cut all ties withthe UK, USA, Aussie etc.” which I don’t believe he’s ever stated – you and DPF seem so eager to attack Campbell you’ve totally missed the bigger picture.

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